This is from here:http://lacopts.org/story/proposed-standard-liturgical-english-responses/
I hope no one thinks I'm cynical in saying this, but I sometimes wonder, we have had a great revolution in our liturgical practices by translating our liturgy into English, and whoever toiled through the standardization did a great job, so God bless his service. But would standardization of the musicality of the English take priority over other issues happening in North America? Is that really the only reason they met? Or did they talk about other things not discussed in the LA diocese website?
I actually could not agree more!
Apart from a few points ;)
1) the difference between the Coptic church and the other churches you mentioned (someone correct me if I'm wrong) is that we Copts in fact ordain cantors whereas to become a cantor in the other churches you mentioned, all you need to do is join that church's choir. Basically, these other Orthodox churches do not ordain women, something we would need to do if we wanted to make them proper Coptic cantors, and which has (as you are all well aware) profound theological consequences. So the first step would actually be to reform the whole rank of cantor to match the set up of our sister churches, only then could women become proper members of this rank.
2) I totally agree that having women cantors would strongly reduce the influence of CCM within the Coptic church, but I have to object to your statement that CCM is the logical extension of non-liturgical taraneem. Taraneem are written within the Orthodox Church (although they may well not be fully Orthodox in their ethos), whilst CCM originates from heterodox sources. Nonetheless, I do take your point.
I think it is mind-bottling, that we focus so much on the tunes/accuracy of our hymns. Obviously this is not with regard to these blessed bishops who are truly perserving orthodoxy. We as servants need re-evaluate what is going on in church these days.
See clip: (skip to 15:15 - 17:00 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oem6ohFse6o
Cyril, thanks for the comments and references.
I think you're correct in bringing up the issue of identity. What can be alarming is attributing our identity to nationalism or cultural triumphalism or ethnocentrism.
We already have evidence that this is what happened to Coptic music from Europeans. Yes there was nationalism, as seen from the writings and motives of Ragheb Moftah. But let's keep things really clear. Anyone who claims nationalism or cultural triumphalism is superficial in their understanding of Coptic hymnography. The opposite is true too. Anyone who claims we need ecumenical universalism in hymnography has no appreciation for our hymnographic past, our current theology and our future praise in heaven.
Just as alarming is the isolationism and jurisdictionalism that this can foster....especially in the lands of immigration.
Isolationism and jurisdictionalism are necessary in certain scenerios. It was isolation that kept us away from some of the nonsense councils of EO and RC and Protestant Reformation. Jurisdictionalism is necessary for order. Without it, we become a nation like Israel in the book of Judges, each person doing whatever he wants without any respect for their role in the Church.
I'm not sure we can make the claim that the Coptic Orthodox Church was never influenced by a synthesis or adaptations from other Orthodox Churches. Whatever was good or true or beautiful we adopted.
Of course was influence by social and multicultural contact that brought in certain musical influences from other Orthodox Churches. But it was not whatever was beautiful or nice. It was a fairly rare phenomenon to adopt texts from other Churches. In fact, there is evidence of a resistance to adopt hymns from other Churches. Why are we so liberal to adopt from somewhere else. The grass is not greener.
Could I also suggest that idea of an unchanging "pure" cultural identity or a fixed hymnographic recension attributed to style (whether Coptic or not) is wholly "modern" project? You can suggest whatever you want. You need evidence to support it. Go ask the EO and Syriac Churches to dump their octoechos system and that adherence to their current system is a modern project. See what they will say.
Could rigorist adherence to an Identity be related to a romanticized idea of the Egyptian Nation? Could it be related? Yes. Is it related? Not for me. These are two separate issues. You want people to believe that the only reason to adhere to an identity is politics, even after I pointed to a theological basis.
Has there been theologizing of the musical theory of our hymns in order to affirm a unique national character? Not that I know of. The absence of a political basis unique to our Coptic musical theory is evidence to me that one can't argue politics. There is no evidence.
If we're speaking about affirming Orthodox Theology, what is the issue with adopting from other Orthodox or sharing with them? There is a difference between sharing Orthodox hymns out of brotherly love, and borrowing and incorporating hymns to "improve our dying tradition". It assumes we are lacking in theological hymns now. There is nothing wrong with our tradition as it is. An instance to change a hymnographic tradition that is not broken reveals more about one's faulty attitude than the music tradition itself.
Does claiming that Coptic Hymns have to sound "Coptic" to keep its theology Orthodox not sound more of a cultural claim than a theological one? I am pretty sure I said nothing about "souring Coptic". The use of Coptic melismata and the theology of melismatic praise is completely foreign to those who are not Coptic. Copying their non-melismatic theology is nothing more than undermining our established melismatic theology. Again it has nothing to do with culture. I don't know how else to say it.
Does appealing to a pure or fundamental past not contradict Living Tradition? No. Our living tradition is manifested in that pure past. Why are you creating a dichotomy that is not supported by evidence?
Where are the Coptic Orthodox hymnographers a la St Sarkis, St Gregory Narek, St Ephraim or St Romanos the Melodist? With the exception of Sarkis, none of these hymnographers are Coptic. This just goes to show how we are so hung up on going to and praising everything non-Coptic. Coptic hymnographers are anonymous. And what does it matter if we have Coptic hymnographers today or not? What we do have is more than adequate.
Most of the rest of your post was already discussed. So I don't want to repeat myself.
And when this occurs in the lands of Immigration this perpetuates the post-reformation myth that Orthodoxy is old, rigorist or a museum, when the Church is fully alive, dynamic, free and life giving. It's bad theology, bad hymnology, bad religion which drives people to rigorism, secularism, protestantism, reductionism and atheism. I think that many of the problematic trends we're seeing in the Church are a direct result of the modernist project of nationalism and of the legacy of ethnocentric identities.
Even if I were to allow that our Coptic hymnograph is old, rigorist and archaic, filled with bad hymnology, bad religion, why would anyone go from bad to worse? It is illogical that bad Coptic anything is the cause that drives people to atheism. This is mere stupidity. Blaming Coptic music and Coptic tradition is the epitome of stupidity that deserves no response. It is not Coptic music that is the problem. It is people's stupidity. Going to liberal praise, secularism, charismatic praise, reductionist praise and atheism is not going to solve stupidity. Expecting us to change Coptic tradition to prevent stupidity is stupidity itself. And you still have not given any evidence that adherence to Coptic tradition is a modernist project of nationalism. Repeating an unsubstantiated claim does not validate it.
I have yet to hear any legitimate reason to abandon traditional Coptic hymnography.
Firstly, talking about Mr. Moftah and Mr. Newlandsmith, now you can see for yourself the unassuming effects of choosing a cantor who doesn't speak like the majority others, because of the presumed hypothesis that other speak Coptic impurified by Arabic!!!! Wrong.
I have no idea what you are disagreeing with me about. Please clarify.
Secondly, iPad, big TV screens, computers, etc take away what the Church has taught us long time ago. The Church should remind us of heaven, and take us away from the world and its contents (ALL OF THEM). So how do people feel, not only the younger generations, but also, when they come to church leaving their TV's to find TV's - leaving their iPads to find iPads INSIDE the altar! No more commenting on this.
I appreciate that you have a theological reason for abandoning technology during liturgical services. But by that standard, we should avoid air conditioning, electricity, lights, chairs to sit, agape fellowship meals, even liturgical books themselves. There was once a time when no one had a liturgical book. They learned and followed the liturgy by memorization. I do agree that we have completely abused the use of technology within the liturgy but technology in itself is not a violation of Coptic theology.